By John Bowden
President Trump on Friday approved a disaster declaration for Hawaii as the state deals with damage from a volcanic eruption on its largest island.
The White House announced Friday night that federal funding had been approved for local recovery efforts in the area affected by the Kilauea volcanic eruption and earthquakes that began early last month.
“Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments,” the White House added in a statement.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) head Brock Long has named deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn as FEMA’s top official for the state’s relief work, according to the announcement.
The Kilauea Volcano, which began erupting more than a week ago, has destroyed at least 36 structures so far including 27 homes, according to CBS News. The volcano is the youngest and most active on the Big Island.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed a request for a presidential disaster declaration on Wednesday, stating in a press release that a larger-scale evacuation may be necessary as the eruption develops.
“As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger scale evacuation increases. A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources,” Ige said.
“Federal assistance would be necessary to enable us to successfully conduct such large-scale operations.”